Popes in a Year
#40 - Pope St. Innocent I
Pope from 401-417 A.D.
Died: 417 A.D.
Give me the scoop on Innocent I.
His date of birth is unknown, as is most of his life prior to being pope other than him having, in some capacity, served the Church in Rome. The energetic and zealous leader was unanimously chosen to succeed Anastasius I in December of 401, and he never looked back.
Innocent had no problem exercising his authority to help firm up the practices of the Church, issuing decretals (letters on canon law) on absolution for dying penitents, denouncing Pelagianism (a sect saying original sin is bogus), and high-fiving St. Augustine for doing the same. Innocent I also made a trip to Ravenna (Italy) to try to convince Alaric, the Gothic king, to not raid Rome. The black-eyeliner-clad ruler was unmovable, though, and Rome was sacked in 410, preventing Innocent I from returning to the city for two years. Innocent died five years later and was buried March 12. His relics still reside in the Gandersheim Abbey in modern-day Germany.
What was he known for?
It’s thanks to St. Innocent I that we have the current Canon of Scripture (list of books). It’s generally accepted that, in 405, Innocent sent a list of the books to a bishop in Gaul that was identical to the one proclaimed as official some 1150 years later at the Council of Trent.
Innocent I had major respect for St. John Chrysostom, his brother bishop from the East and former Patriarch of Constantinople. St. John had more or less been the punching bag of Empress Eudoxia through being deposed (unlawfully), exiled, and harassed (literally) unto death. In desperation, St. John appealed to Innocent for help, but sadly the pope couldn’t do anything substantial in time to save him. So, he instead refused communion to John’s persecutors and, once the Bishop of Antioch reconciled with the Church, Innocent restored John’s name among the saints read at Mass.
What else was going on in the world at the time?
In 416, eruptions of Krakatoa, the volcanic island within the borders of Indonesia, are recorded in the Javanese
Book of Kings
, though geological evidence doesn’t support the assertion.
Coming Monday....Pope St. Zosimus
SOURCES (and further reading)
- John, E. (1964). The Popes: A concise biographical history. New York: Hawthorn Books.
- Pope St. Innocent I -
- Pope Innocent I -
- Krakatoa -
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Sent by Matthew Sewell on Friday, February 24 at 2:00AM